In marriage and politics, the stakes are high this election year.
Like the rest of country, my house is divided as Election Day approaches. One couple, two political parties and a pair of candidates we don’t agree on.
2016 has been a tough election year. Feelings are strong, rhetoric is loud and there’s no ignoring how nasty the selection of a new president has been. I wince at ugly online spats, cringing when people post snarky comments, and “unfriend” others because of their political views.
I’ve stayed quiet about who I’m voting for, not wanting to pick a fight with anyone. But even at home, I tread carefully.
In the spirit of equal time, my husband and I watched both conventions in July. Piled on the couch with our kids, we ate supper in front of the TV and listened closely to what each candidate said. But there’s a reason politics is a risky conversation topic over dinner.
Because despite our best efforts to rise above the national fray, there have been numerous arguments about the election in this house divided. Two strong opinions have led to uncharacteristically heated discussions. I’m not proud that we’ve said harsh words about the opposing candidates, then snapped at each other for voting for them.
But as Election Day gets closer, no matter how much I despise his party’s pick, I dislike arguing with my husband even more. Although I don’t think anyone has escaped a heated political discussion this year, I hate the nastiness the election is causing in our country – and at my house.
2016 has been a marathon political Rorschach test for all of us, and everyone sees something different in the swirls of opinions and plans. Despite the differences in who we think is the best candidate, I keep reminding myself that my husband and I are selecting them for the same reasons: We think our choice is the best one to make this country stronger. More prosperous. Safer for our kids and everyone else’s.
And no matter who you’re voting for, I know you’re choosing a candidate because you want these things, too. I hope we can all agree on that.
As the election gets closer and the divisions across the United States about the election deepen, our daughters have watched my husband and I passionately disagree. They’ve listened to us wrestle about our parties, our candidates and with each other. In the heat of those discussions, I hope they’ve seen their parents trying to find common ground with one another despite our vastly different political views.
It’s the only way we’ve been able to get through some of those conversations. And on a bigger scale, it’s the only way our country is going to unite after Election Day on Tuesday.
But more than anything else, what our kids have heard the most from us is that these freedoms to argue with each other; assemble and protest; and loudly express our opinions is what makes the United States great.
No matter how inflammatory, controversial or annoying anyone’s political views are to their neighbor, Facebook friend or (wince) their spouse, the privilege to vote however we want and believe whatever we choose is the bedrock on which this country is founded.
I hope our girls remind us about that the next time Mommy and Daddy start arguing about politics.
So on Election Day, they’ll come to the polling place with us. One of our candidates will lose, and on Jan. 20 the other will be sworn in as the new president. But no matter who it is, my husband and I will have to move past our deep political differences.
In marriage, being in it for the long haul means learning how to make up with each other – even after the worst fights.
And if we’re going to stay together as a country, we’d all better start thinking about how to do that, too.
Dawn Golik lives in Fresno with her husband and their two daughters. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow her on Twitter (@DawnGolik) or on Instagram (@mommygolik).